By Darryl Mason
Why are so many people having so much trouble breathing normally?
The president of the Australian Medical Association Victoria, Harry Hemley, said doctors had been overwhelmed with people suffering respiratory infections in recent weeks.
"I would say about one-third of the population has some sort of upper respiratory infection right now, but I can't say how many of those have swine flu," he said.
So if it's not swine flu, and pollution levels in Australian cities are not causing this, then what is responsible?
The Australian government likes to boast about its 'one of the best in the world' stockpile of anti-virals, gloves and facemasks, but it seems reluctant to let them go to the front line Australians who need them the most :
Dr Hemley said many GPs had been exposed to the virus while caring for patients because protective equipment released from the Federal Government's stockpile had not yet arrived.
More than 1500 Australians are officially categorised as having been infected with Influenza A H1N1 by Monday morning, but the real figure is expected to be many thousands more.
The New Flu has already spread so far and wide across Australia that Health Minister, Nicola Roxon, has announced they're bailing on widespread testing and hardcore quarantine measures. They're not going to stop the spread, they know it, as the American Centre For Disease Control knew and admitted more than a month ago. Quarantining rugby league players and cruise ships was just "buying some more time", no time at all as it turns out.
The Great Hope that the Rudd government will sell this week instead is the August release of a supposed vaccine against swine flu. Well, a vaccine against the swine flu virus that is rapidly spreading now, and it may well mutate further by the time August rolls around, which would render the prepared vaccine not so effective, or downright useless.
Those with pre-existing health conditions, children and the elderly are expected to be the more likely to suffer seriously from the New Flu, though many of the deaths already reported from the virus in the US and Mexico seem to centre around people aged between 5 and 30 years old.
Nicola Roxon said that infected Australians who were now in intensive care were mostly those who were already suffering "respiratory illnesses."
So, you have all these people apparently already suffering from respiratory problems while a fast-spreading previously unknown influenza virus seems to be hitting the hardest those already having trouble breathing normally.
It's a hell of a way for a country to head into Winter, and its peak flu months.
We are now only entering the second week of a new pandemic reality, one that may take 18 months to two years or more to unfold.
While the Rudd government will try to be seen as doing Everything It Can, the curious new influenza strain will do whatever it's going to do, mostly unhindered, for the next few months at least, by vaccines and containment measures.
How do you go to war against something that can spawn three generations of itself in under 60 seconds?
If you can't get your hands on pharmaceutical anti-virals, star aniseed is better than nothing, and some would argue far better in fact than the side-effect addled Tamiflu.